Rise in accidental house fires in East Ayrshire

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Local Senior Officer, James Scott, has presented the latest Performance Report for East Ayrshire.

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A lapse in concentration whilst cooking has been linked to a sharp rise in accidental house fires in East Ayrshire.

Latest figures taken from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Performance Report, show a total of 120 such incidents were recorded between April and December, marking an increase of 69 per cent on the previous year.

The majority of these were contained to a small area with distraction whilst cooking identified as the most common cause.

The number of fire casualties recorded over the period fell to 18 – a decrease of 28 per cent.

Of this, almost three-quarters were given first aid at the scene with most suffering from smoke inhalation.

Local Senior Officer James Scott presented the report before the Police, Fire and Rescue Committee on Tuesday, 7 March, and afterwards said: “Whilst I welcome the reduction in fire casualties, it is a concern that we have seen a considerable rise in the number of accidental house fires over the period.

“It’s clear that being distracted whilst cooking remains the most common cause of accidental dwelling fires, putting lives and property at risk.

“That’s why it is so important that people never leave the kitchen unattended while they are cooking.

“Anyone can get distracted and if that happens in the kitchen then it’s all too easy for a potentially serious fire to break out.

“We don’t want anyone to be injured as a result of fire, which is why we urge everyone to sign up for a free home fire safety visit.

“In particular we are keen to protect the most vulnerable in our communities to be safe at home.”

The SFRS advise the following tips for kitchen safety:
• Never leave your cooker, grill or oven on when you go out – even on a timer
• Never hang or dry clothing and towels near the cooker
• When deep frying only ever fill one third full
• Always switch appliances off before going to bed or leaving the house

To register for a FREE Home Fire Safety Visit call the SFRS Freephone number: 0800 0731 999, or visit the website at www.firescotland.gov.uk

Deliberate fire setting in East Ayrshire remains a concern with some 504 incidents recorded over the reporting period.

The vast majority were classed as secondary fires with many involving rubbish or refuse - such incidents accounted for just over one in four of all operational responses.

LSO Scott continued: “We have seen a rise of six per cent in deliberate fires from the same period in 2015.

“Such reckless action needlessly endangers lives and prevents firefighters from attending real emergencies.

“Deliberate fires are often linked to anti-social behaviour and reducing these incidents remains an ongoing priority.

“Positive engagement with local communities, particularly with young people, remains our most effective weapon in combatting this unacceptable behaviour.

“We take a zero tolerance approach towards anyone who deliberately sets fire and are committed to working closely with our partners, including Police Scotland, to help ensure those involved in this criminal activity are quickly identified.”

Anyone with information relating to deliberate fire raising can contact Police Scotland on 101 or anonymously through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Service continues to recruit retained firefighters in East Ayrshire as well as other parts of Scotland.

Retained firefighters attend a wide range of emergency incidents such as fires, floods, road traffic collisions and chemical incidents. Out with emergency response, RDS firefighters also carry out other duties such as conducting home fire safety visits and attending local events within their communities.

LSO Scott called on anyone considering a career with the SFRS to step forward.

He added: “We continue to recruit retained firefighters and witnessed an encouraging response in the number of applications submitted.

“Our firefighters are committed to serving their communities to the best of their abilities and I pay tribute to those who are currently providing this important service.

“Anyone interested in embarking on a rewarding career with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service should visit the myjobscotland website or alternatively pop into your local fire station.”

Retained firefighters are paid an annual retainer fee plus additional payments for every incident attended and time spent on all activity including training nights, community engagement and courses.

Anyone interested in applying can get more information by speaking to someone at their local fire station or visiting the official SFRS website: www.firescotland.gov.uk/work-with-us/join-us-as-a-retained-firefighter.aspx

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